Egypt to Host Another Fatah-Hamas Meeting
Egypt is set to host another meeting between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and its rival Hamas, the Egyptian Al-Ahram daily reported on Monday.
According to the report, an official from Fatah announced that the meeting would be held on Wednesday in Cairo.
Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah's central committee, said the Cairo meeting would discuss the possible resumption of reconciliation efforts from the same point at which they stalled last July.
Al-Ahmed also stated that, as soon as an understanding was reached on the resumption of work of the Palestinian Central Electoral Committee, consultations would begin on the formation of a coalition government under Abbas.
He also asserted that reconciliation talks would include several parallel committees concerned with issues such as "public freedoms" and "community reconciliation."
The upcoming reconciliation meeting was announced after last Wednesday's get-together in Cairo between Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas's political bureau.
According to London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Fatah has demanded that Hamas dissolve its armed wings and recognize the PA's official security forces as the only armed force. The demand, however, was strenuously rejected by Hamas, according to the newspaper.
The revival of talks between Hamas, which took over Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007, and Fatah comes within the context of an Egyptian-sponsored unity agreement reached in April of last year. The main terms of the deal, however, have yet to be implemented due to ongoing differences over who should head up the proposed coalition government.
The sides have been getting closer since Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. During the counterterrorism operation, the two factions announced they have decided to end infighting. The Palestinian Authority later announced it will release Hamas-affiliated detainees as a goodwill gesture to boost reconciliation efforts.
Two weeks ago, for the first time since its violent takeover of Gaza, Hamas allowed the Gaza branch of Fatah party to mark its anniversary in the region.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticized last week's meeting in Cairo, saying it was proof that the PA leader does not want a peace agreement with Israel.
"Abu Mazen gives a hug to the head of the terrorist organization who announced only a month ago that Israel should be wiped off the map," Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to comments made by Mashaal during a recent visit to Gaza.
"A leader who desires peace does not behave this way," Netanyahu said of Abbas.
Netanyahu repeated those comments in a television interview on Monday, saying, "I'll make peace if I am talking with someone who does not embrace Hamas and does not give credit to people who showered rockets on the State of Israel."
He added, "If Abbas comes to the negotiating table without preconditions, he will find me on the other side of the table."